The Inaugural NewSpace Ventures Talk
11 May 2022
On 28 April, about 70 participants from the business world gathered at the Spuerkeess offices in Luxembourg City to discuss ventures in the commercial space sector and learn about the latest advancements of this ever-evolving industry.
NewSpace Ventures Talks is a series of events organized by SnT, Technoport, and InTech, with the support of Spuerkeess and UNIVERSEH, bringing together the business, technical and financial side of NewSpace ventures in dedicated sessions on current sector developments. The talks aim to be a networking platform for strategic partnership opportunities, and a way for attendees to keep the pulse of the commercial space industry. Each event offers opportunities to hear from and exchange with experts in aerospace engineering, space entrepreneurs, business, and more.
This first event, focused on Concurrent Engineering, welcomed speakers from ESA and the University of Luxembourg. Concurrent Engineering is an engineering approach characterised by specialists working together in real time on different aspects of the same project, as opposed to a sequential approach in which every subsystem is developed autonomously. As it allows for more effective design, it has recently become the standard in space systems engineering.
Dr. Loveneesh Rana, Head of the Concurrent Design Facility (CDF-LU) at SnT, opened the event with an overview of space systems research in Luxembourg, explaining the role of the Concurrent Design Facility at the University, and the projects currently being conducted by SnT and the students of the Interdisciplinary Space Master.
After Rana’s introduction, guest speaker Massimo Bandecchi, former Head of the Concurrent Design Facility (CDF) at ESA, spoke about concurrent engineering as a holistic approach to engineering and business. He explained how ESA leverages Concurrent Engineering to analyse hundreds of proposals from member states and select several to pursue every year. In fact, hundreds of ESA missions were designed in the CDF, with destinations as far as Neptune, Uranus, and the Sun. This approach, Bandecchi underlined, is particularly advantageous in terms of costs, as it brings considerable savings: overall, a factor four reduction in time, and a factor two reduction in cost. What’s more, the projects developed in the CDF have 30% less engineering challenges in later phases (design and implementation), which is crucial to their success.
Following this keynote Stéphane Pallage, Rector of the University of Luxembourg, then intervened in a video message to underline the role of research and teaching in the NewSpace sector, and its relevance in the context of the Grand Duchy. “Space is now as important as steel, once the number one industry in the country,” explained Pallage. “We are training students for jobs that do not yet exist,” he added, mentioning the University’s initiatives such as the Master in Space Communication and Media Law, the Interdisciplinary Space Master, and more recently, the university’s involvement in UNIVERSEH.
After this intervention there was a presentation of the winners of the 2021 SpaceHack hackathon, co-organised by InTech and Technoport. The award went to a group of students at the University of Liège formed by Aïsha Laabel, David Georges, Emmanuel Catry, Emmanuel Bomanga, and Mariana Ochodkova, who presented a project on power generation in space. As part of their prize, the students were offered support for concept prototyping in the SnT’s Concurrent Design Facility in February 2022 and are currently looking for investors.
Eric Tschirhart, Professor of Physiology at the University of Luxembourg, closed the event with a presentation of UNIVERSEH, the European University for Space Education and Humanities. UNIVERSEH is a consortium of five European universities established in 2020 to develop new ways of collaborating in the field of space, including supporting job creation, industrial growth and resolving societal challenges across Europe. Under the team leadership of Tschirhart, the University of Luxembourg focuses on stimulating entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial skills among students, as well as strengthening the sustainability of the network and its communication.
The event concluded with a networking session in the beautiful context of the Spuerkeess offices in 19, Avenue de la Liberté in Luxembourg, once the headquarters of Luxembourg’s steel giant Arcelor Mittal.